Floral wreath with label 'Why?'

You are on a beach, deep in your novel, absorbing the sun, when a bullet hits you. You kneel to pray in a familiar place of worship. A bullet hits you. You open your bible in the company of friends. A bullet hits you.

On the beach, as you slip in and out of consciousness, you are aware of the presence of a particular hotel employee kneeling beside you. He is telling you not to be afraid and that help is coming. He is not one of the people shouting for help or telling others to run. He is not running either. He is simply there. He may get shot. But he does not want you to be afraid and he wants you to stay alive.

Linda Woodhead

– and can anything be done?

At last night’s lively talk at St Brides’ Liverpool, and the equally lively discussion afterwards, Linda Woodhead presented an alternative vision of the Church of England.

Linda described the findings of her and Andrew Brown’s research into the declining fortunes of the Church of England since the 1980s. Linda focused on four things that have been going wrong, and suggested alternatives for a brighter future.

THIS SUNDAY is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, heralded as the birth of the modern international LGBT rights movement. Pride marches in cities across the world, including New York and London, are taking place this weekend to commemorate the struggle for equality that began in New York's Stonewall Inn in the early hours of June 28th 1969. Forty-five years after the first Pride marches in New York and London, why do we still need them?

Pope Francis' coat of arms

Laudato Si is the papal encyclical about the environment published on 18th June 2015. The subtitle is ‘On care for our common home’. At 40,000 words it is a substantial document. I hope this post serves as a useful summary and commentary, and perhaps encouragement to read the whole thing.

On the whole I think it is excellent but I expect criticisms, mainly on two points.

Caution sign

What happens to the individual is mirrored in the life of the collective. People and groups can be made to feel threatened by each other, or by something common to all, even if whatever it is they fear has not yet come about.

A nation may turn on itself when faced with imminent bankruptcy. A Church can turn on itself when faced with the spectre of its ultimate demise.